Child Therapy can be a little different to the idea of traditional therapy which you might have in mind. Children and Young People are still developing their language, understanding and regulating skills.
What it’s like Being a Child Therapist – Written by Sophie Rose – Serenity Psychotherapy Child Practitioner
Firstly, Child Therapy can be a little different to the idea of traditional therapy which you might have in mind. Children and Young People are still developing their language, understanding and regulating skills. And so, if they come to a point in their life where they are struggling with difficult thoughts and feelings, many children do not know what it is that they are feeling and cannot put it into words.
This can make it really hard for those around them to know how to support them. When a child comes to therapy, it’s important that there are lots of creative options to support the child or young person to express themselves. This could include sand tray work, art, lego, role play or many other creative activities. These creative resources engage the child to communicate effectively.
A lot of my work therefore, requires me to get messy and be in touch with my inner child! This is one of the most amazing things about my job, I get to be part of the incredible stories and adventures that the children bring to the session.
I must make it clear though, that it isn’t all fun and games. There is a purpose to our work together, and although we do use many creative resources, their primary function is to support the young person to express themselves. We are often exploring very painful, difficult thoughts and feelings together. This is tiring, for the child or young person and sometimes myself too. But we know that working through this process ultimately makes life more manageable and the goal is for the young person to be able to enjoy life much more richly and have a kinder, inner world.
Self care is a very important part of my job. It’s become a bit of a buzz word in recent years which is great, though, I think it’s important to also acknowledge that self-care is a discipline. Sometimes, it’s not about putting a candle on and having a bath, but rather about making sure you’re eating right and getting enough sleep. It’s vitally important that I am able to be fully present in session and be able to contain and bear any emotion that is brought. My golden rule is: if I’m not taking care of myself properly then I won’t be able to take care of my clients.
No two sessions are the same, the reasons for my clients attending therapy are of course individual, meaning that each session is tailored differently. When a child comes to session, I am led by them. By waiting to see what they bring to session, I can ensure that I am responding to what is being processed at that time. Sometimes, I’ll have a certain intervention ready to bring and I then look for an opportunity to present it. Every so often, a session will go in a completely different direction to what I had expected or even planned for, and yet the work done will still be just as rich.
As well as the sessions, there is also a lot of work being done behind the scenes. This can include, making process notes, attending clinical supervision, report writing and arranging reviews or catch-ups with parents. There is also the task of meeting our CPD requirements for each year, so we are continually researching, learning and attending conferences or workshops as part of this.